Some Canadian provinces are now allowing open houses again with new rules amid the pandemic.
In one example, the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver announced this month that open houses would resume, with health warnings for potential clients. Visitors to open houses in Vancouver can expect to see hand-washing stations on the premises and need to sign a visitor log for contact tracing.
Ontario’s Stage 3 reopening plan, which began last Friday, also includes open house showings under its new gathering limits of 50 people—or 30% capacity—with physical distancing rules enforced. While open houses are returning to many areas of the country, that doesn’t mean every buyer and seller supports the idea. Many still prefer virtual showings via Zoom and other platforms.
Many would believe that for a purchase as important as a house, no one would want to buy without visiting the place. But Anthony Hitt, president and CEO of Engels & Volkers Americas, told CBC that even buyers of expensive properties are seeing the upsides of virtual tools that were popularized during the pandemic.
A tour where a seller or agent carries a camera around the house, for example, can allow buyers to look closely at finishes, views through windows and inside cabinets. This in turn is a positive for sellers, whom feel reassured that those prospective clients who subsequently end up at in-person showings are genuinely interested in buying. Elsewhere, data from MLA Canada in the Vancouver area, where showrooms have been open for a month, suggests that potential buyers are increasingly carrying out more research online before requesting in-person appointments.
Shopping for a new home in the post-COVID 19 era may well become more like car shopping, where much of the research and emotional buying journey is done before hitting the lot. Ultimately, that could save both buyers and sellers time—and heartache.